It was about midway through Fan Appreciation Day at Investors Group Field Saturday when the folks in the sound booth found just the right note, cueing up the Journey anthem, Don’t Stop Believin’ on the public address system.
It seemed a bit of a case of preaching to the choir, given that the couple of hundred diehards who showed up are by definition already believers.
Of course, there’s also always the possibility that Saturday’s attendees were simply trying to get at least something for their money this year. While the football at Investors Group Field hasn’t been worth much in 2013, at least the hot dogs, chips and soft drinks were free on this one day.
Still, you had at to at least admire the spirit of the notion — Yes, we’re 1-8, but don’t stop believin’.
So in that spirit, here’s some reasons for hope today as the Bombers enter the second half of the 2013 season in the 10th annual Banjo Bowl against the Saskatchewan Roughriders:
We’re well aware of that and it’s something we as players have to take responsibility for and change
1. Just look what happened last year
History has recorded that after losing 52-0 in Regina last season, the Bombers bounced back aggressively in the following week’s Banjo Bowl and would likely have won had head coach Tim Burke chose to kick a field goal instead of punting in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter.
Compared to last year’s 52-0 Labour Day shellacking, last week’s 48-25 loss in Regina was positively a nail-biter, suggesting the Bombers are even better positioned for a Banjo Bowl bounce-back this year than last.
Or something like that.
2. The Bombers always play better in the Banjo Bowl than on Labour Day
Consider the numbers: While the Bombers are 0-9 in their last nine visits to Regina on Labour Day Weekend, they’re 4-5 in the last nine Banjo Bowls.
Yes, that’s still a losing record versus Saskatchewan. But at least it’s competitive, something the Bombers never are in Regina.
3. Saskatchewan ain’t all that good
Yes, the Roughriders have the best record in the CFL this season — 8-1. And yes, they have the league’s most outstanding player —running back Kory Sheets.
But Saskatchewan barely beat Montreal three weeks ago, barely beat Edmonton two weeks ago and trailed the lowly Bombers at halftime last week.
Yes, the Riders won all three of those games, but the point is they have shown themselves to be vulnerable, including in the first two quarters last week.
4. If the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem, the Bombers have mercifully finally done that — it’s called the third quarter
Outscored 43-2 over their last eight third quarters, Bombers QB Justin Goltz says his teammates know they will never win again this season until they figure out how to play all four quarters, not just the first, second and fourth.
"We’re well aware of that and it’s something we as players have to take responsibility for and change," said Goltz. "It’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish and there’s no moral victories in this league."
5. Just because
Look, in a season in which just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, this is a Bombers team that is simply due for a couple of breaks to go their way.
Maybe it’s a blocked punt for a TD, an interception return, or simply catching an opposing QB on an off-day. Whatever it is, Winnipeg is long overdue for something, anything, to go their way to reward their fans for all that believin’.